Lost or stolen prescriptions
All doctors within general practice should ensure the security of prescription forms or pads from theft and misuse. Although the incidents of theft may be rare, these forms or pads can be used to obtain drugs illegally, often controlled drugs (CD’s) for recreational use or for onward sale. Stolen prescription stationary, forgery and drugs that are fraudulently obtained are likely to be sold for substantial financial gain. Because prescription form pads and single prescription forms are small they are easy to move and to conceal so detecting the theft of these items may be difficult.
There are already a number of security features built into prescription forms to deter theft and fraudulent use including solvent-sensitive ink, ultraviolet marking, coloured backgrounds and serial numbers. However, these are of little use if poor security measures overall allowing theft of the forms in the first place. The effective management of prescription forms, for example, how they are stored and accessed by all practice staff is very important and requires that the practice has appropriate security policies, procedures and systems in place.
- All GP’s and practice staff should ensure that appropriate procedures are in place for the secure storage of prescription forms and other related stationary
- Procedures should be in place for the immediate reporting of any loss or theft of prescription stationary and staff aware of what actions to take if prescription pads go missing, liaising with pharmacists and the gardai to minimise any resulting damage
- A clear record of all prescription stationary stock received should be kept including:
- what has been received along with serial numbers
- to whom prescription forms are issued along with serial numbers
- the serial numbers of any unused prescription forms that have been returned
- details of any prescription forms destroyed
It is advisable to hold minimal stocks of prescription stationary
Patients, temporary staff and visitors should not be left alone with prescription forms or allowed into secure areas where they are stored
When making home visits take suitable precautions to prevent the loss or theft of forms-ensure prescription pads not left on view in a vehicle
GP’s on home visits should record the serial numbers of any prescription forms they are carrying and only carry a small number of forms
To reduce the risk of misuse blank prescriptions should not be pre-signed
GP practice should keep a record of the serial numbers of prescription pads issued to locums